Wheel of Fortune was a family tradition growing up. Every weeknight, my family would tune in to watch Pat Sajak and Vanna White turn letters on a giant wall. It was awesome. Each one of us would try and see who could guess the puzzles first — my sisters and I got pretty good at it. We even had a computer game at home we’d play together for hours on end.
When I heard Wheel of Fortune was available on the iPad, I jumped at the opportunity to relive that nostalgia and enjoy a game that’s fun, educational and competitive. While the game was fun and a little educational, there was one thing it wasn’t: competitive.
The game has three playing modes: solo, pass n’ play and “spin together,” which is when you play with friends online. Unfortunately, none of my friends had the app so I wasn’t able to play the “spin together” mode, so I tried the other two.
Let’s start with solo mode. When you’re playing by yourself, you get to create your own “customized” avatar — I use quotation marks because there aren’t many options for the avatar’s appearance. For example, you can’t even change the eye color, which was a disappointment for me because the default was green and mine are blue.
Now, solo gameplay must be fun, right? Well, yes and no. It’s fun because it definitely makes you feel like you’re playing the actual game. While Pat Sajak’s avatar doesn’t speak (and also looks pretty hilarious, come to think of it), there’s still an interactive audience that will cheer or boo depending on what dollar amount your spin lands on. The players’ animation is fun too — they cross their fingers and look around nervously when the wheel is spinning. Heck, I even got to play against good ol’ Abraham Lincoln! A game designer must’ve had fun making that avatar.
Here’s the problem with solo mode — it’s way too easy. The AI in this game is ridiculous. I played a few rounds and at no point did AI players present an actual challenge or increase their skill levels. During one game, the other players never guessed a single letter correctly. Just take a look at this picture I took during one of the games. I don’t even have to explain it, the picture perfectly represents how idiotic the AI is.
In addition, there are no difficulty settings in this game, which means I can’t make the AI dumber or smarter depending on my mood. Now, the AI might get tougher further down the road, but for players like me who already know how to play Wheel of Fortune, the challenge just isn’t there as early as I’d like. This is a flaw the game makers should fix immediately.
I tried the pass n’ play mode with a friend, and this was actually pretty darn fun. While we couldn’t use our customized avatars during pass n’ play, which was a disappointment, playing with a friend made the game more challenging, more exciting and way more fun. I highly recommend playing this game with one or two friends using a shared iPad. It was great.
There are unlockable themes and achievements for this game, which are all right but nothing to write home about. If you’re a fan of old-school Wheel of Fortune, you might enjoy unlocking vintage themes like Nineties and Premiere; if that’s not something you particularly care about, it’s not really worth it.
In the end, Wheel of Fortune for iPad is meant to be played with people. An AI simply cannot substitute for playing against another human being, at least with this game. If you’re looking for a fun iPad game to pull out at small get-togethers or while you’re in the waiting room with a friend or family member, I recommend this game. If you usually play games by yourself, I’d give this one a pass.
Fooden shutters, anyone?
Check out Wheel of Fortune; it’s currently $2.99.
Disclosure: This app was independently purchased by the post author in the iPad App Store. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.